Friday, November 30, 2012

Building Robotics Companies in Massachusetts

Building Robotics Companies in Massachusetts

During the week of November 12th the MassTLC Robotics cluster explored entrepreneurship in Massachusetts with two events featuring local start-ups and a new incubator coming to life soon called Bolt.

On Tuesday, November 13th, the MassTLC Robotics Cluster held its quarterly meeting at Bluefin Robotics in Quincy, MA. This well attended meeting of robotics executives from around New England included a tour of the Bluefin Robotics facility and a presentation by Will O'Halloran on a recent expedition to find Amelia Earheart’s plane using Bluefin’s AUV and ROV technologies -- read more in this Boston Globe article.  New evidence has suggested that Amelia Earhart’s plane crash landed off the coast of Nikumororo Island well south of her destination of Howland Island. Forensic evidence of artifacts found on the island along with descriptions given in her last radio transmissions have led to this new hypothesis. The expedition was documented by the discovery channel in a program that aired this summer. See more about the documentary here.

Ben Einstein of the new hardware incubator Bolt also attended the meeting and talked to the group. Over the past decade building a web start-up has become faster, cheaper and easier in part due to business accelerators like YCombinator and TechStars. Bolt is looking to do something similar in finding and attracting the best hardware entrepreneurs and helping to accelerate their business. Bolt is scheduled to open in February 2013 in downtown Boston with an initial group of 15 early stage companies. The application process will start in December. In addition to office space, funding and mentorship provided by other local incubators, Bolt companies will be given access to prototyping equipment, product design expertise, as well as, help in finding manufacturing and sales channels. See attached slides from Ben’s presentation here.

On Tuesday, November 13th, a group of esteemed robotics entrepreneurs talked at Northeastern University about what it takes to start a robotics company. They stressed that a successful company come out of a real problem that is being solved with technology. The panel included presentations by Jeremy H. Brown, founder and president of Jaybridge Robotics, a startup that helps companies create autonomous vehicles; Charles Grinnel, CEO of Harvest Automation, a startup material handling company; Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics, over­sees the devel­op­ment of advanced robots that can recover from a slip on an icy patch of pave­ment or jump into a second-​​story window.Charles Remsberg, CEO of Tibion, a startup that makes robotic rehabilitation devices. Read more about their presentations here.

The week ended with a great discussion on Robotics Technology Enablers at the MassTLC unConference on Friday, November 16th. The group discussed what technologies, like smart cars, will push robotics forward and into the mainstream. It was great to see so many robotics companies like JayBridge Robotics, Kiva Systems, Railpod, Neurala in attendance. Check out some of the sessions and more on the unConference 2012 here.

Next Robotics Cluster meeting, February 2013, Location TBD

All photos are from the Bluefin Robotics 15th Anniversary Party held September 2012.

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